You don’t need more ideas. You just need to make them happen.
Shout if this sounds familiar. Whenever you try and start a project at work, you automatically go into brainstorming, setting up meetings, and doing loads of research. And it’s great, you gather tons of info, come up with lots of ideas and then… get stuck on how to take it forward.
In an era of endless data and infinite possibilities, we constantly struggle to translate knowledge into action.
In 1959, Peter Drucker coined the term “knowledge worker” and it came to be known as white-collar jobs that require you to “think for a living” and turn knowledge into capital.
But what happens when too much knowledge becomes a liability? Analysis paralysis, echo chambers, and info overload are some of the new challenges we struggle with.
Now don’t get me wrong, research and insight are still important and crucial to making sure you’ve identified the right problem before you start coming up with solutions. But the techniques of a knowledge worker need to evolve. Certainty no longer comes from having thought things through really well, it comes from actually doing it. Hence I put forward the innovation worker. If knowledge workers think for a living, innovation workers turn thoughts into reality for a living. Bridging the gap between the idea and the real world is the hard part. But it also means this isn’t just a white-collar job — anybody can solve problems and success comes from trial and error, not just expertise.
This is an evolving theory for me that I’m experimenting on at Action for Children, but here’s my stab at a manifesto that I’m hoping to bring to life through a series of blog posts.
Innovation workers have three key components: curiosity, culture, and collaboration
- Curiosity — now that we can find any info on tap, how do we go beyond being experts in our individual specialisations and learn from completely different fields? It’s impossible to: (a) know everything and, (b) know what you don’t know. The counter to that is being curious and always asking why (at least five times!) and challenging the status quo.
In future posts, I’ll be sharing tips on how to build inquisitive teams that seek inspiration from unlikely places, how to immerse and be curious about your users, and how to channel curiosity to find new solutions and test them quickly.
- Culture — it might seem intangible, but the power of culture can make the difference between creating space for change or stopping things from ever taking off. As the saying goes, culture eats strategy for breakfast. Innovation workers build cultures that empower people to take charge and build the world they want to live in, instead of waiting for someone else to change things for them.
I’ll be sharing thoughts on recruiting for vibe, creating a culture of experimentation, and how leading by doing (and showing it’s possible!) is 1000% more impactful than up-skilling through training.
- Collaboration — at the end of the day, it’s people that make things happen, and truly amazing things can become real when you bring together a mix of talent and energy. We need to move from being the “experts” who cook up ideas in a room to seeking to work with different actors that bring fresh perspective. I’m actively seeking collaborative opportunities since networks create spaces for ideas to collide and new solutions to come to life.
I’d like to start a conversation on how to find your tribe and build powerful networks, how to co-create with your users, and how we can scale impact in solving social issues through working together.
Hopefully this makes more sense than the Conjoined Triangles of Success from Silicon Valley
So those are my musings for now. Do any of these things sound like stuff you need more of in order to move from idea to reality? I’d love to get your thoughts on what resonated and what you’d challenge!